Government forms three-member committee for army chief's tenure legislation

Pakistan's Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, arrives to attend the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2019. (REUTERS/File)
Updated 02 December 2019

Government forms three-member committee for army chief's tenure legislation

  • Supreme Court gave the government six months to draft legislation for extension in an army chief’s tenure
  • Army chief’s service extension would augur well for both the military and the country, defense analyst says

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has constituted a three-member committee to negotiate with the opposition and draft legislation for the extension in the army chief’s tenure. 
The committee, comprising Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Defense Minister Pervaiz Khattak, and Minister for Planning Asad Omar, will also debate the new legislation in the parliament. 
“We will introduce constitutional reforms with the help of the opposition,” Khattak said while talking to media in Peshawar on Sunday.
The Supreme Court suspended the government’s notification of August 19 that gave a three-year tenure extension to army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, citing procedural flaws on November 26.
The court gave a temporary six-month extension to the retiring army chief whose tenure ended on November 28, instructing the government to draft the requisite legislation within this period.
Pakistan’s civilian governments have granted extension in service to only two army chiefs – General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and General Qamar Javed Bajwa – for their ‘meritorious services’ and this instilled a new strength in the force for their popularity in the rank and file, defense analysts said on Sunday.
Gen. Kayani was granted a three year service extension in 2010 after completion of his initial three year term in the office by the then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in a bid to continue military operations against militants in the country’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. He retired in November 2013 after completion of six years in the office.
Prime Minister Imran Khan granted three year service extension to Gen Bajwa for “regional security environment,” but it didn’t go as smooth after the apex court took suo moto notice of the action. 
“This is for the first time that service extension to an army chief has been thoroughly discussed in the apex court, and this will hopefully plug legal loopholes now after the legislation,” Lt General (retd.) Amjad Shoaib told Arab News.
Giving a background to the matter, he said that President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto constituted a high-powered committee after 1971 war with India to reorganize the command structure of the armed forces including the army, navy and air force.
“The committee had fixed the services chief’s tenure to three years and corps commanders to four years,” Gen Shoaib said, “this has been followed religiously up till now, though no written rules exist for it.”
About reaction in the army on extension in service, he said that a couple of ‘senior most generals’ aspiring to be the next army chief might feel bad, but “as per tradition and discipline of the force, they never express their feelings openly.”
“The strength of this army is discipline and loyalty to the command. This is unwritten and the whole training of the army revolves around this motto,” he said.
Pakistan army’s first native commander-in-chief General Ayub Khan remained in the office from 1951 to 1958. General Zia-ul-Haq (1976-1988) and General Pervez Musharraf (1998-2007) remained as the army chief’s for twelve and nine years respectively but, being the martial law administrators, had extended their tenures in the office themselves.
Concurring with General Amjad Shoiab, Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi, a renowned political scientist and defense analyst, said the army chief’s service extension would augur well for both the institution and the country.
“Both the government and the opposition parties are willing to extend the army chief’s tenure, and a legislation regarding it will have a smooth sailing in the parliament,” he told Arab News.

PM apprised of billions worth of abandoned properties identified for auction

Updated 7 min 29 sec ago

PM apprised of billions worth of abandoned properties identified for auction

  • Says abandoned properties would be utilized for construction of low-cost houses, schools, hospitals
  • Instructs the authorities to share the information regarding the abandoned properties with Naya Pakistan Housing Authority

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday was informed that 32 federal government-owned abandoned properties worth billions of rupees had been identified in major cities for their onward auction to generate revenue and spend it on public welfare.

The prime minister was chairing a meeting to discuss progress on the productive utilization of the federal government’s unused properties wherein secretary privatization said the properties had been identified in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi with their estimated value in billions of rupees.

Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Privatization Minister Mohammed Mian Soomro, Special Assistants to Prime Minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Syed Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari and Nadeem Afzal Chan, federal secretaries of the ministries concerned and other senior officers also attended the meeting, a Prime Minister Office press release said.

The secretary privatization told the meeting that out of 32 identified properties 27 were available and the process for recovery from illegal occupation and completion of ownership documents of rest five properties was in progress.

The prime minister was told that the investors and overseas Pakistanis had shown keen interest in the said properties during an expo held in Dubai during the current month.

He said after fulfilling all formalities, the schedule for their auction would be finalized and a local and international advertisement campaign would be launched in first week of January.

The prime minister expressed satisfaction on the process and said the utilization of abandoned properties and the utilization of the generated revenue for public welfare was vital component of government’s policies.

He said the abandoned properties located on key locations in major cities would be utilized for construction of low cost houses, schools and hospitals besides spending the revenue generated from their auction for provision of better amenities.

The prime minister also instructed the authorities concerned to share the information regarding the abandoned properties with Naya Pakistan Housing Authority so that such land could be utilized for construction of low cost housing units.

He also directed all the ministries to amend their rules to ensure the utilization of the abandoned properties for public welfare and furnish report to cabinet within a week for early completion of the process.

He also instructed the government to accomplish the recovery of the government land from illegal occupation and complete the documentation of their ownership in coordination with the provincial governments.

Chairman Naya Pakistan Housing Authority apprised the prime minister about the progress on the construction of low cost housing units for poor. The prime minister said the provision of low-cost and well equipped houses to the low-income group particularly the residents of the slums was among government’s priorities.

He said the construction of the high rise buildings in slums located in different cities would not only resolve the housing problems of the slum dwellers but also enable the government to spend revenue to be generated from the construction of commercial plazas for building low-cost houses for the poor.